ONCE The Musical returns to Melbourne

DTC-ONCE-2021-photo-by Robert-CattoDarlinghurst Theatre Company has announced that its production of the breathtaking Broadway musical ONCE, is set to melt hearts again, when it plays Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre this September.

Currently playing at Darlinghurst’s Eternity Playhouse, ONCE will embark on a regional NSW tour to Wollongong, Lismore, Canberra, Orange and Newcastle throughout August and September, before playing in Melbourne from 17 September 2021.

Based on the movie of the same name by John Carney, with a book by Enda Walsh, it is the only Broadway show with music that won the Academy Award®, Grammy Award®, Olivier Award and Tony Award®.

Directed by Richard Carroll, this critically acclaimed production features musical direction by Victoria Falconer and stunning movement sequences created by Hamilton’s resident director Amy Campbell. When it opened at Sydney’s Darlinghurst Theatre Company in 2019, it played to nightly standing ovations and packed houses. Garnering 5-star reviews, the sell-out season had to be extended due to popular demand.

Now it is time for Melbourne to once again lose itself in the irresistible musicality of Dublin. The season at the beautiful Comedy Theatre is something of homecoming for this much-loved musical, as its first Australian season was also at a Marriner Group theatre. The announcement was greeted with great excitement by the cast, who are thrilled to be bringing ONCE back to the city that first fell in love with the musical in 2014.

Jay Laga’aia joins Australian musical theatre stars, Toby Francis and Stefanie Caccamo, who are returning to the roles they first performed in 2019 and are inspired by the love story of ONCE’s songwriters, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

Fans of Irish singer and songwriter Glen Hansard will be thrilled to learn that Toby Francis actually plays the songwriter’s own guitar in the show. Creative Producer Amylia Harris recalls, “the Irish photographer, Dara Munnis, happened to see one of our posters. He contacted Glen Hansard about lending us the guitar, and Glen thought it was a great idea.”

The guitar sports the trademark hole that Hansard wears into the top of the instruments he plays. “It is treated with much reverence by the company, as though Glen himself were with them on stage each night,” says Harris.

“The incredible sequence of lucky events that brought the guitar into our show is one thing – talk about a good omen!” said Musical Director Victoria Falconer. “But knowing that this instrument has had these songs played on them, since the 90s, by the very musician who wrote them, adds a special level of raw authenticity that is layered into Toby’s playing, and by extension, the way in which the whole ensemble plays along with it.”

Glen Hansard formed his group The Frames in 1990, before appearing as guitarist Outspan Foster in the motion picture The Commitments. In 2001, he performed with The Frames at a music festival in the Czech Republic, where he first met Markéta Irglová. Six years later they formed the folk duo The Swell Season.

Their self-titled album included several songs that found their way onto the 2007 ONCE soundtrack including, When Your Minds Made Up, Lies, Leave and the Oscar-winning Falling Slowly.

Performing on stage alongside Francis, Caccamo and Laga’aia are some of this country’s most outstanding actor-musicians, who play the spellbinding songs from the critically-acclaimed film live on stage.

Award-winning Director Richard Carroll considers ONCE to be one of the most challenging musicals for the artists involved. “It asks for so much from its actors. Not only do they need to tell this beautiful story every night with truth, passion and humour – they also need to sing the exceptional songs with all of the same qualities,” he said.

“AND they are their own band, so every one of them needs to be an exceptional instrumentalist. I am blown away by the capabilities of the cast and creative team we have assembled, and I can’t wait for Melbourne audiences to see them perform,” said Carroll.

ONCE opens at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre on 17 September for a strictly limited season. Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.au. The current Sydney season continues at the Eternity Playhouse until 18 July, before embarking on a regional tour of NSW. For more information, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.

Image: ONCE – photo by Robert Catto